Echo and the Bunnymen
iberia is new. It comes from the Bunnymen, to you. No need to form a queue. No reason to barge through. You’ll get what’s due. If love is true. Just catch the early morning dew.
A guest introduction by Ian McCulloch, there.
Alright, ok, that’s a little bit harsh—of the eleven shiny new songs presented here only “Parthenon Drive” is guilty of quite that level of rhyming hilarity, and I suppose it could just about be passed off as some kind of stylistic effect. Maybe. Nevertheless, those hoping for a return to the esoteric, the sublime and the sometimes ridiculous Bunnyman imagery of old may quickly find themselves turning a mournful face away from their audio-emitting device and holding back the sniffles.
But wait! Dry those eyes! They haven’t written a song like that for years. And look here, “Scissors in the Sand” has some bizarre musings about silverfish—all is not lost! Even though the tracks have a more straightforward lyrical direction, that unmistakable voice is still there. Somewhat huskier, rather more relaxed and certainly not planning to revisit any semi-yelped paranoia—but still well able to cut THE MUSSTAAARRD. As one might say.
And the news keeps getting better. Hugh Jones (of Heaven Up Here fame) has tinkered and twiddled and tuned until Will Sergeant is channelling the deities of chime and squall to near-perfection, forming a harmonious reunion that takes the material places it may otherwise have fallen agonisingly short of. Which is why “In The Margins” sways and swoops as it should, why “Siberia” belies it’s frozen and scarred namesake and why “All Because of You Days” … err … sounds suspiciously like “Ruby Tuesday.” “Everything Kills You” has another stab at the rhyming overkill trophy, but by now any complaints about poetic missteps have long since been crushed by battalions of ringing sound—marching at a Sergeant’s command.
Bookending the album are two shining pearls. Released as a single and subsequently ignored by almost everyone, “Stormy Weather” has been given an annoyingly rough deal for a song that is easily as compelling and romantic as anything post-“Lips Like Sugar.” And popping up where you might least expect it, taking the rest of the tunes on its fragile shoulders, is ... a piano ballad. It’s personal, open and, with McCulloch’s new-found soft vocals, “What If We Are?” would almost be cosy were it not for the ‘ever hit rock bottom?’ refrain, fading gently out into who knows where.
Indeed, for an album which adopts the title of an area notorious for both literally and metaphorically freezing people out, Siberia displays considerable levels of warmth. Perhaps this was down to McCulloch and Sergeant’s reportedly low-key songwriting sessions with only guitars and drum machine for company—two friends together, producing an intimacy that comes through on record. It may owe more than a little to Jones’ production. This is not a ‘return to form’—how could it ever be? A band of this age have some many peaks and troughs in form as to render that kind of phraseology practically meaningless. Just as Porcupine should, just as Ocean Rain should, Siberia too should be taken in isolation. In the dimming light of winter, it will positively glow.